In the past few weeks, we had experienced an upsurge of rape cases in our country and we had all at one point or the other raised our voices in protest against the perpetrators of this dastardly act. However, in our haste to call out the evil that is rape and the people who commit the act and also demand Justice, we seem to have overlooked a very dangerous branch of the same tree of sexual violence. We may have unconsciously appeared to be silent on the issue of the continuous molestation of children by adults, including parents and guardians.
Child Sexual Molestation/Abuse has become an even bigger issue all over the world. According to clinical psychological studies, one in three boys and one in six girls face some form of sexual abuse or the other before the age of 18.
As at 2017 in a study conducted by the National Population Commission, with support from UNICEF and the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention on ‘Nigeria Violence Against Children’, it was revealed that approximately six out of every 10 Nigerian children under the age of 18 years, experience some form of physical, emotional and sexual violence before the age of 18 years.
The study also showed that One in two children experience physical violence, one in four girls and one in ten boys experience sexual violence, and one in six girls and one in five boys experience emotional violence.
Unfortunately, the correct rate of molestation cases cannot be easily ascertained as a result of little to no reports being made to relevant authorities. Even in the USA, according to The National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse (NAASCA) fewer than 12% of sexual abuse incidents are reported to the police.
There are a myriad of reasons for this.
In most Child Molestation scenarios, the victims know their abusers. They are mostly family, neighbors or acquaintances who are close to the victim and who with the use of threats ensure that the abuse continues for a long period of time before anyone finds out.
We as a society do not also help with our culture of victim blaming/shaming and the like. There are instances where the victim summons up courage to tell someone and in return gets beaten and blamed. There are also situations where the victim is pressured to settle without involving the police or the authorities. The lackluster manner in which our Police treat such cases do not help either.
We also seem to forget the trauma that the victims of this continuous assault are subjected to from such a young age. Most times, victims of such abuse need years and years of therapy to get through the trauma. Victims who don't get the much needed help end up being emotionally scarred and stunted or turn out as aggressors in the society. They may even end up becoming abusers themselves.
We already have existing Criminal Laws but unfortunately these laws cannot take effect unless we let them. We can do this by reporting to the relevant authorities, by not blaming the victim.
We can do better!
We must do better!!